1.2 That Demonic Novelistic Impulse: Orhan Pamuk with Bruce Robbins (JP)

In Episode Two of Novel Dialogue, critic and scholar Bruce Robbins sits down with Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk. They have taught classes on the political novel together at Columbia for years, and it shows. They ask how the novel can ever escape its roots in middle-class sensibility and perspective: Joseph Conrad comes up, but so does modern Brazilian film. Then they discuss the demonic appeal of Russian novels—and why retired military  officers produced so many great Turkish translations of Russian novels.

We hear tantalizing details about Pamuk’s forthcoming pandemic novel, Nights of Plague. He discusses his move away from “highbrow ironical postmodernist” fiction and reveals his affection for talking about politics–along with his distaste for what the consequences of speaking out may be. “I am not shy about talking…but there are consequences!”

Finally, he tells Novel Dialogue what he did to celebrate the news of his Nobel, which came on “a surrealistic day.”

Mentioned in the Episode

City of God (Brazilian film, 2002)
Joseph Conrad (Under Western Eyes, Nostromo)
Ivan Turgenev
Gayatri Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?
Karl Marx, “18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Demons (1871-2), A Writer’s Diary
James Joyce, Dubliners
Louis Aragon, (Zolaesque romances at the end of his career), Aurélien
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Listen to the Episode

P.S. bonus track coming……. If you can’t get enough Pamuk, tune in tomorrow to hear him do both a reading and an impromptu commentary on the final few paragraphs of his beloved novel Snow.

Published by plotznik

I teach English (mainly the novel and Victorian literature) at Brandeis University, and live in Brookline.

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